India signs $5 billion deal for Russian air defence systems

Arnold Nichols
October 7, 2018

Under the deal, India will get five such missile systems.

Official sources said the two countries also signed the $5 billion S-400 air defence system deal after talks between the two leaders in Hyderabad House.

State Department spokesperson said this week that the implementation of the sanctions act would be focused at countries acquiring weapons such as the S-400 missile batteries.

Putin, who arrived in New Delhi late Thursday, was also set to discuss with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi further agreements worth some $3 billion for Russian naval ships and military helicopters. However, the improving ties between India and Russian Federation could hit its relation with the USA, say experts.

"It is also politically important in that it signals that India will not abandon Russian Federation as a supplier because of U.S. pressure".

"India being described as the bright star has become the sixth largest economy and is on way to become the fifth largest", the prime minister said.

Security analysts in Asia said US' threat of sanctions is being seen as bullying and would not really deter deals like the one India just inked with Russian Federation. Almost 70 per cent of India's present-day defence equipment was procured from Russian Federation, according to India's Defence Ministry.

But the U.S. considers India a strategic ally and therefore a waiver may be issued. "India has a very sophisticated policy of separating the relationship between India and the US and India and the Russian Federation". India had last month firmly told the U.S. at the "2+2" dialogue that it takes note of the historic nature of India-Russia defence relationship as also legacy issues and keep the missile deal out of the sanctions' regime.

India has signed more than $15 billion in United States defense contracts since 2008, including for C-130J and C-17 transport aircraft, P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, Harpoon missiles and Apache and Chinook helicopters.

"Russia has stood by India through time and has played a crucial role in India's growth story", he said.

However, Washington is in a tricky position with India, seeking to bolster ties with the Asian giant to counter China's growing assertiveness, something which has also rattled New Delhi.

Doval was tasked with convincing the trump administration that the S-400 deal does merit a USA presidential waiver from the provisions of the Countering America's Adversaries Through the Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Experts fear India is flexing its military muscles as Mr Modi stands up to China's People Liberation Army and Beijing's influence around the Indian Ocean.

The Russian missile system is said to be the best in the world. "Today we have taken decisions that will make our long term relations even stronger".

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